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The art of the breach in Syndicate's four-player co-op mode


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In the future, machines will be the least of our worries -- it's the humans with advanced machines in their bodies we'll have to watch out for. Advanced chips, to be exact, will unlock seemingly limitless potential in human beings. This is the world of Syndicate.

Governments of tomorrow will play second fiddle to massive corporations, and the game's four-player co-op mode focuses on exactly that. It's sort of a quasi-espionage affair: your team is sent in to various locales in order to steal advanced technology. It's just, uh, not very sneaky.

Gallery: Syndicate (Co-op) | 12 Photos

With only one map (well, a portion of one map) available during a recent preview session at EA's Redwood Shores facility, I was given just a taste of the final mode. Other missions might be less shooty, but EA representatives wouldn't comment. This mission was very straight-forward: after a chopper dropped our foursome off on a roof, it was all a matter of shooting enemies and following markers to get to the stuff.

There are four different classes to choose from (Medic, Spec Ops, Assault and Generic), all for varying combat situations, but this mission in particular failed to capitalize on the various dynamics. For one, it was too brief, and after playing through it several times, I found little variation between each playthrough. Not only were the objectives the same, so was enemy placement and, well, pretty much everything.

Breaching plays a big part in Syndicate's co-op mode, both as a defensive and offensive tool. Support fans wanting to hang back and aid the team can certainly do so by playing the Medic. Locking onto a hurt teammate and pressing the Breach button will heal them, and doing so to an armored enemy or stationary turret with a shield will attack it, bringing down its armor and stunning it for a brief moment, no matter which class you are. Obviously, if you're playing as a Spec Ops (sniper), your likelihood of being a Breach asset is lower. Progressing through each mission forces players to combat progressively more difficult enemies, so effective Breaching is key to survival.

Just don't expect enemies to simply walk into your hail of gunfire and roll over dead. Frankly, I was surprised at just how tough these guys were -- they could take a lot of damage and certainly dish it out. The journalist death toll in the sessions I watched before and after my time with the game was pretty staggering. That's not to say my team and I didn't die. We died a bunch. But as our tactics became more refined, we eventually found success.

The big draw, EA hopes, is the loot. Each time you Breach an armored enemy and stun them, you can jack their brain chip. Stolen brain chips net some gun parts you can apply to your multiplayer arsenal. Even though there isn't any persistence between single-player and multiplayer, EA hopes this never-ending supply of loot will keep players coming back to the co-op portion of the game. I just hope the final game's missions have a bit more substance to them, lest EA bear some disappointment from fans.

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